Volunteers near Auckland have been working on a coastal restoration project at Atiu Creek Regional Park. The project has been devised between Conservation Volunteers New Zealand and Auckland Council, along with Te Uri o Hau to restore an area in Kaipara Harbour.

The project has been named the RACE Project (Restoring Atiu Creek Ecology) aims to capture ‘Ko te hau o te tangata, ko te hau te whenua’, which when translated means ‘The vitality of the people, the essence of the land’.

The Atiu Creek Regional Park only achieved visitor numbers of 23,000 a few years ago and it is hoped that the restoration work will help to boost visitor numbers. This part of the coast has been inhabited by humans for hundreds of years and there are a number of important archaeological sites within the park including forts and various types of homes.

In the 1950s there was a land clearing project, road building and tree planting in the region and the landowner was able to operate as an experimental farm. The owners passed the land on to the nation in 2006 and the regional park was opened just two years later. Auckland Council is now in charge of the land.

The regional park is home to a number of ecologically-significant features. These include sand dunes, freshwater eco-systems and sea grass. The park accounts for 640,000 hectares of pastureland, tree plantations, ancient forests, mangroves and wetlands. The restoration of the coast here has been made possible thanks to funding made available from Foundation North. While previous projects were run on a part-time basis this is no longer the case and it will now be the flagship project for Conservation Volunteers New Zealand on the north island of New Zealand and people from all over the country and even world can get involved.